
Step 1: Planning
Measure The Work
First, determine the size of the artwork being framed.
For this project, I'm framing a university diploma for my
sisterinlaw. The diploma is exactly 8.5 inches by 11
inches. Next, figure out how wide you want the matting
borders to be. To do this, I often use a principle called
the "Golden Ratio."

Artwork Dimensions


The "Golden Ratio"

The Golden Ratio


The "Golden Ratio" is a number which has its roots
in mathematics, and is generally agreed to represent an
aestheticallypleasing ratio. It actually occurs quite
often in nature, and is used a great deal in architecture
and art. The number happens to be 1.618 (it continues on
indefinitely, like Pi. This is called an "irrational"
number). I recommend you incorporate this value in your
work. You'll be pleased with how it looks.
In this project, I'll use the Golden Ratio to determine the
width of the matting border surrounding the diploma. I'll
apply it to the larger dimension of the art (the width).

Decide on Sizing

The width of the diploma is 11 inches, so muliplying by the Golden
Ratio gives us 11 x 1.618 = 17.798 inches, which we'll round
off to 18. This means that there will be a total of 7 inches
of matting across the width of the artwork. Divide it by two
to give equal matting width on either side of the diploma, and
we end up with 3.5 inches of matting on either side.

Completed Sizing


Rather than apply the Golden Ratio to the height too, I'll
instead use the same matting width (3.5 inches) to give a
uniform border around the diploma.
I'll use a frame width of 1 inch, bringing the overall frame
dimensions to 20 inches x 17.5 inches. Next, I decided on a style
or profile for the actual frame itself.

Frame Profile

Frame CrossSection Profile


I decided on a fairly simple profile for the frame, shown here.
Note that there are 2 layers of matting. This is cryptically referred
to as a "double mat," and looks nicer and more formal than just a
single mat. Each layer is roughly 1/8 of an inch thick, so 4 layers
works out to about half an inch of layers to be packaged into the back
of the frame. A 3/4 inch deep rabbet will suffice. A "rabbet" is
simply a ledge or channel cut into wood. In this case, it will be used
to hold the glass, matting, artwork, and backing inside the frame.

The rounded edge and the shallow rabbet on the face will be created
using a table router.

Next: Preparing the Wood.
